Rating Manual section 6 part 3: valuation of all property classes

Section 1080: totalisators on horse racecourses

This publication is intended for Valuation Officers. It may contain links to internal resources that are not available through this version.

1. Co-ordination

Totalisators on horse racecourses are a Specialist Rating Unit (SRU) class and responsibility for ensuring that appropriate co-ordination takes place lies with the SRUs. For more information see Rating Manual section 6: part 2.

Special Category code 132 should be adopted and as an SRU class the appropriate suffix letter should be S.

The valuation guidance below should be followed; the Practice Notes for the 1995 and 2000 Rating Lists have been superseded and are not to be followed for later rating lists.

2. Description

A totalisator is described by the Betting and Gaming Act 1960 as “the contrivance for betting known as the totalisator or Pari Mutuel, or any other machine or instrument of betting of a like nature, whether mechanically operated or not”. It is essentially a computer which facilitates the rapid receipt of stake money, the issue of betting tickets and paying of winnings after calculation of the odds. Unlike fixed odds offers by bookmakers, the odds paid to winners from the totalisator are based on the total amount of money staked on each race. After a certain fixed percentage has been deducted for costs of operation etc, the balance is divided between the holders of winning tickets. There are normally not less than 2 independent pools in respect of each race, one for win and the other for place and/or forecast.

Totalisators were first used in this country at the Newmarket and Carlisle racecourses on 2 July 1929. Originally their use was limited to “on-course” betting, but “off-course” betting is now available. Totalisator facilities are now available on every racecourse in England and Wales.

The Tote (Horserace Totalisator Board) is a statutory body established by the Racecourse Betting Act, 1928 and is unusual in that it is not owned by anybody. In 1999 the Government reviewed options for the Tote’s future with the outcome that it made a commitment to sell the tote to a Racing Trust to allow it to compete commercially. Legislation was introduced to Parliament in 2003 and gained Royal Assent in October 2004 to enable the Tote to be taken into public ownership before being sold to racing. The bid by a racing consortium and tote staff was rejected in March 2008. The Government announced in October 2008 that they would be delaying the sale of the Tote due to market conditions.

3. Unit of Assessment

Totalisators are occupied and operated by the Tote and as such must be the subject of an assessment entirely separate from a racecourse itself. Totalisator buildings may be sited in the various enclosures and there may therefore be several totalisator buildings within one racecourse. The valuations of all these buildings should be aggregated and treated as one hereditament.

4. Basis of Valuation

For the 1990 and 1995 Rating Lists conventional methods of valuation were found to have shortcomings when applied to totalisators on horse racecourses. Such rents as pass are in respect of the site only and so far as the receipts and expenditure method is concerned it was found impractical to apportion figures appearing in the accounts of the Horse Race Totalisator Board operating throughout the country to individual totalisators. The contractors basis is unsatisfactory since apart from the different question of site value totalisators are housed in widely differing types of buildings, the effective capital values of which give little guide to the valuation of occupation.

The former approach to valuation that became established incorporated the components of the traditional methods and was based on the rating case of Racecourse Betting Control Board v Doncaster RA (1948 Vol.41 R&IT 572) which was the subject of arbitration proceedings.

From the 2000 List onwards the Tote has provided figures for individual racecourse totalisators operating throughout the country. From analysis of those accounts it has been possible to develop a basis by applying a percentage to the Gross Receipts for each totalisator.